Learn to Self-Regulate
If you’re finding that seven or eight hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep always leave you craving more, consult a physician who can help you pinpoint the causes of your oversleeping. And if you suspect that your fatigue stems from the fact that you can’t seem to establish a regular nocturnal routine, the following checklist, as outlined by Yale–New Haven Hospital, is a good jumping-off point from which to cultivate healthy sleeping habits.
- Wake up at roughly the same time every day, including Saturdays and Sundays.
- Exercise regularly, and do your most intense workouts no later than five hours before bedtime.
- Limit your caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine consumption, particularly later in the day.
- Don’t eat big meals right before you go to bed.
- Make sure you’re sleeping on a comfortable, supportive mattress.
- Begin to wind down thirty to sixty minutes before you want to be asleep. Turn down the lights, quiet your mind, and listen to soothing music or read a good book in your bed.
Everything in Moderation
The National Sleep Foundation is a comprehensive resource for people who have questions about appropriate sleep quantities, how sleep works, and “sleeping smart,” among other topics. One of this organization’s primary messages is that while sleeping is a highly individualistic habit, it represents a “U-shaped curve” on which sleeping too much and sleeping too little can be equally risky—so the key, as with most lifestyle choices, is striking a balance that’s just right for your body. I, for one, am trying to limit myself to seven hours of shut-eye each night. But I have to admit that it’s not easy, considering that I’ve been a glutton for pillowtop mattresses all my life. I just have to remind myself that more hours of wakefulness enhance my overall health, and that I could even be missing out on living longer by snoozing for as many hours as I’m accustomed to. I’m determined to train myself to need less sleep—even if I have to force my eyes to stay open by inserting toothpicks under the upper lids, the way Tom the cat did in that “Sleepy-Time Tom” episode of Tom and Jerry.